January 16, 2013

Bells, books and . . . um, candles*


So I wasn’t going to ring bells either yesterday or today.  Because I had this book to finish again, in this case dealing with my editor’s queries.  This is the stage, I find, where a good 90% of everything you do you throw out.  Because the book by this time is pretty much The Book and it doesn’t take kindly to your meddling.  I know this going in and therefore morale is not high.  Plus there are those delightful moments when your editor—okay, my editor—finds those places where you—I mean I—had a brain spasm and cut out something crucial or inserted a few random phrases while you, I mean I, was under the influence of the Gflytch transmitting station on Venus.  And so there’s a little note in the margin saying, um, what is going on here?   And you—I mean I—have to do something.


But, you know, my mere career isn’t going to keep me from bell ringing.**  But the weather will.  Yesterday afternoon I cancelled going to Glaciation that evening because it’s kind of a long way, as I count long ways, and on twisty little back roads, and it was supposed to snow and sleet.  Whereupon frelling Niall rang up at about an hour before time, while I was in the throes of chapter divisions***, and started leaning on me to come to the once-a-month practise at Old Eden.  ARRRRGH.  He knows me too well:  my ringing life feels to me chiefly notable for long languishing periods where I don’t actually learn anything either because the practise is too busy and there are too many people that need to get their hands on ropes during the course of the evening, or because the practise isn’t busy enough and can’t provide the band I need—I who only learns by ENDLESS FRELLING GRIND.  I therefore really hate the idea of beginners not getting their grinding because there aren’t enough ringers to make a band.  So Niall, grinning evilly, picked me up at the mews and brought me in triumph to Old Eden, where Vicky, looking up in surprise, said, Ooh!  The cavalry!  And while we had eight ringers for six bells . . . only three of us were proper method ringers, Niall and Vicky and me, so yeah, I served a purpose.  Oh, and then the weather did not plunge below freezing, the roads stayed dry, and I could have gone to Glaciation after all.

Tonight is the twice-monthly ‘improvers practise’ at Fustian, and I emailed tonight’s ringing master—Bailey and Nestor swap, like Scary Man† and Albert do at the abbey—that I would be there barring sleet.  I was there.  It did not sleet.  And—speaking of grind—they let me ring two plain courses of Cambridge minor which I am going to learn before I die of old age, I am, the problem being the GRIND thing again, how long have I been trying to learn it??  But I don’t get my grind.††  I don’t get my grind, I don’t learn.

There weren’t very many of us tonight, so we were all having a break while Bailey stared thoughtfully at the whiteboard.  QP next week, he said.†††  Are you here? he said, one by one, to the others assembled.  I kept my eyes on the floor, because I’m a visitor.  They don’t owe me anything:  it’s nice of them to let me come to their practises, but generally speaking you only get invited to ring quarter peals at other towers if you’re good.

A pair of shoes appeared in my field of vision.  Robin, are you here next Tuesday? said Bailey.

Eeep, I said.  Um.  Sure.

Would you like to ring a quarter peal? pursued Bailey.

Um.  Sure, I said.

He nodded, and wrote my name on the whiteboard.

WHAT A GOOD THING I’VE FINISHED THE BOOK (AGAIN).  Which is to say I don’t think the wretched thing will have been through copyediting by next Tuesday. . . .

* * *

* May I just say I hated the movie.  Talk about fear of female power dear loves-both-genders-equally God.  A witch who falls in love loses her witchcraft?  And the so-called romantic lead decides to take her back WHEN HE FINDS OUT SHE LOST HER POWER WHEN SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM?^  This is my era, okay?  It came out in 1958 and I saw it in the late sixties some time when I was a teenager, and was already having trouble with the fact that none of the women on STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL LAUGHFEST ever did anything except show their legs and fall in love, and I had already been marked for life by Walt Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY.  Why am I a feminist?  This is why.

^ Note that I’ve always loathed Jimmy Stewart anyway.  It’s a Wonderful Life makes me throw up.  Frelling sue me.

** Or singing.  I had my voice lesson yesterday and went in moaning first about not singing in the Muddles’ concert and second about how the halfway okay noise I can (sometimes) make singing exercises—which is a lot of why I like exercises, as I used to like Hanon when I was playing the piano regularly—GOES AWAY as soon as I try to sing a song.  Nadia was nodding before I got halfway through this latter plaint.  Yup, she said.  Normal.  Get used to it.  And it just goes on like this however good you get.  Cecilia Bartoli probably feels exactly the same way.

*** I loathe chapters.  If it were up to me there would be no chapters, just line breaks and part one and part two etc if necessary.  Like I got away with in SUNSHINE but this doesn’t work very often.  And since I don’t write in chapters I have to go back and put them in later.  Arrrgh.

† I really have to give poor Scary Man a name.

†† Catherine, on the forum, who wrote two guest blogs about her first experience of bell ringing last September has already rung her first quarter peal insideARRRRRRGH.  Listen, honey, if you ever come to one of my signings, don’t introduce yourself because I will crush you underfoot with extreme prejudice.  First quarter peal INSIDE after FOUR MONTHS?  Kill me.  Kill me now.

And do goad your conductor into posting it.  Your first QP is IMPORTANT  

††† The Tuesday system is two ordinary practises for people like me, one gruesome brain-melting practise for people whose idea of ‘improving’ is something you need a magnifying glass just to read the line in the method book because it wiggles so much, and a quarter peal.


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